Fires are still raging in Washington state, where officials hope rain might help them contain the large fires — but there's also a chance that heavy rainfall could trigger flooding and mudslides.
Fire crews have been battling several major fires in central and eastern Washington for the past two weeks. The blazes have destroyed hundreds of homes and caused wide power outages.
President Obama declared an emergency in the state today, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help local and state agencies with supplies and disaster relief.
From Spokane Public Radio, Steve Jackson reports:
"Several fires continue to ravage the state, with the Carlton Complex, the largest in state history, now at 250,000 acres. But cooler temperatures and increased humidity have helped firefighters achieve 16 percent containment.
"Communications manager for the Department of Natural Resources Janet Piece says rain is actually in the weather prediction for today.
" 'However there is lightning coming with the scattered thunderstorms,' she says. 'So, we're going to have to keep an eye on that, but we're hopeful the rain will keep dousing out what the lightning causes.'
The temperatures are expected to get back into the 90s by next week. Good progress has been made on the Mills Canyon fire, near the town of Leavenworth, and the Watermelon Hill fire burning near Spokane. Both are at 90 percent containment Wednesday."
More than 2,500 people are currently trying to fight the huge Carlton fire, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. The blaze is larger than the Washington portion of the Yacolt Burn, a 1902 fire that killed 65 people and burned more than 1 million acres of land in Washington and Oregon, Northwest Public Radio reports.